Team GB to play around country but FAW could derail Games plan

Old Trafford, Millennium Stadium and Wembley are chosen but Welsh may not sanction Cardiff game

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The Independent Online

Great Britain's Olympic football teams will play their group matches at Old Trafford in Manchester, Wembley in London and the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff in 2012. Hope Powell's women will play their first two group matches in Cardiff and the third in London.

Tickets for the men's Olympic football tournament go on sale on 29 November, while the draw takes place on 24 April. The events were previously on sale as part of the original Olympic ballot – but people will now be able to apply for specific matches.

The men's team will begin their London 2012 campaign at Old Trafford on Thursday 26 July, followed by Wembley Stadium on Sunday 29 July and Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Wednesday 1 August.

The women's team will begin the tournament on Wednesday 25 July – the first day of Olympic action – at the Millennium Stadium, followed by Saturday 28 July at the same venue. Their final group stage match will take place on Tuesday 31 July at Wembley.

However, a spokesman for the Football Association of Wales has told BBC Sport they are seeking clarification whether they, as the host association, have to sanction the 2012 Olympic fixtures planned for the Millennium Stadium. The FAW is against Welsh players representing Team GB at the Olympics as it fears a British team threatens its independence as a separate football nation.

"The prospect of Team GB taking part in the Games has captured the imagination of the public and we are pleased to be able to confirm their group stage fixtures ahead of tickets going back on sale," said Debbie Jevans, director of sport for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog).

"With teams like Spain and Brazil already qualified and fantastic venues across the country, the Olympic football tournaments promise to be a great family day out at the Olympic Games next summer."

Stuart Pearce has already said he would welcome any of the Home Nations players to wear a Team GB shirt at the Olympics next summer. Wales internationals Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey were both photographed in the London 2012 official Team GB supporters football top recently, swiftly followed by new England call-up Jack Rodwell.

Great Britain has not entered a team for the Olympics since 1972 and last qualified in 1960. There remains heated debate about what exactly the make-up of next summer's squad will be.

The pictures of Wales internationals Bale and Ramsey caused some controversy as the FAW is, along with Scotland and Northern Ireland, officially opposed to its players taking part in the Olympics team which is set to be for Under-23s, though three over-age players are permitted. Pearce feels that whatever the eventual make-up of the squads, it should all be about what is good for the individual.

"I think there is a little bit of scepticism in some quarters at the moment, but the closer we get, the more the excitement will be generated and accelerated," he said. "I keep seeing pictures of players in newspapers wearing GB shirts, putting themselves forward. I, for one, would love to play in this tournament if I was still playing.

"It always boils down to what is best for the player. If a player wants to come and be part of it, this is me picking from four nations. That is how it should be."

PA

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